This week, Ian Shepherd talks about his love for the sport and the important work that we do through the organisation of our regional forums.
I love fishing, the freedom and escape it gives me. I get to see the seasons change, cycles of life and nature happening in front of me, while I decadently absorb myself in its gentle flow for hours at a time.
It gets difficult to find the right words to quantify the feeling of well being it supplies me with, but quite simply fishing is part of me and I can’t imagine life without it. We have some amazing river and stillwater fisheries in this country that produce absolutely superb fishing but it would be silly to suggest that there weren’t opportunities to improve things still further and that sometimes there are issues such as pollution, poaching, predation, impact of invasive species and over abstraction to deal with.
This is why I feel it’s so important to give anglers the opportunity to come together with key angling organisations, to listen to each other and discuss the issues that they are facing, this is where the value in Regional Forums shows itself.
At Regional Forums anglers from all the different aspects of the sport come together, and it’s this coming together that will safeguard the future of our sport, not anglers being divided up and pigeon holed. The Angling Trust and our Fisheries Forums bring anglers together as one voice. Imagine what could be achieved if all anglers stood together demanding that action is taken to address our concerns, I’m sure the angling landscape would look different.
Angling Trust run around 36 Freshwater Fisheries Forum a year right around the country from as far north as Northumberland right down to Cornwall and pretty much everywhere in between.
The forums are run in association with the Environment Agency and are funded via Rod Licence money to ensure that no matter where you live in England there is at least one Fisheries Forum reasonably near to you. The Forums are open to all and are free to attend. The Environment Agency attends all meetings to share plans, listen to anglers concerns, answer questions and address problems.
The format of the meeting normally involves expert speakers followed by Q&A sessions with the audience to ensure that anglers, fishery owners and angling club reps get the chance to ask questions and voice their opinions. Usually the speakers include a local EA Fisheries Representative, an Angling Trust member of staff and a representative from another organisation that has a key influence on fisheries, such as a Rivers Trust. Registration to attend a forum couldn’t be easier, as they’re all listed on the AT website with links to the online booking system:
If you use the link above, you can watch a video clip summary about the forums by John Cheyne, Angling Trust, National Regions Manager and if you look to the left of the screen you will see all the different regions listed, click your region, and the date for the next forum with details will be listed.
We ask that if anglers, clubs and organisations have a specific and/or in-depth question, that they submit it prior to the forum, so the question can be sent to the right person/organisation for an answer or investigation. We also ask for agenda items – what’s the burning issue your club or fishery is facing? Could we hook you up with the right person or organisation that just might have the silver bullet you’ve been looking for???
At a forum, you can find out about things like implementing pollution warning systems into your river fishery that only involves an hour’s volunteering per month to take a kick sample, this can also be fun and interesting to see what little critters are present. Over a short period, a baseline of the fisheries health will be understood and that can be used to alert when something negative is happening and lead to the appropriate action being taken.
At some forums, we have Fishery Managers come along to talk as guest speakers about how you and At some forums, we have Fishery Managers come along to talk as guest speakers about how you and your club can make practical improvements, such as cleaning gravels or installing a fish refuge for example. Your club or organisation can find out how to apply for rod licence cash through The Angling Improvement Fund for facility improvements, protection against predation, how to attract new members to your club, improve access for all and many other themes that improve angling. You can also find out how to apply for cash (your rod licence cash) from the Fisheries Improvement Program, run by the EA aimed at clubs and organisations who want to improve the habitat at their fishery and remove the bottlenecks that prevent natural, healthy fish stock recruitment and implement the right habitat changes for fish to thrive in. You will also be updated about the status of our on-going campaigns – fighting to protect fish and fishing and how you can actively get involved.
If you haven’t attended a fisheries forum and love your sport, come along, like I say their free to attend and informal – tea, coffee, biscuits, sometimes there’s a bar depending on the venue, and some time to chat to like-minded anglers before the start and towards the end of the evening. Checkout the agendas, we’ve recently had PHD students attend and present on Barbel and Pike studies carried out on different rivers, I didn’t realise how different baits effect the habits of a Barbel until I heard Catherine’s presentation!! Jack Perks the famous underwater camera man presented at our Midlands, Warwickshire Avon Special Forum, he showed spectacular footage and told of his findings regarding fish behaviour as well as some of the shenanigans he’s got up to filming with the BBC. Above all else, these forums are about working together to solve problems and improve fishing across the UK, so why not give it a go and come and join us.